Friday, January 13, 2006

The Catalans would like their new Constitution to contain a provision giving everyone living there the duty [deber] to learn Catalan. This is something which I don’t think any national government in the British Isles [including the Irish government] has ever even considered in respect of Welsh, Gaelic or Manx. And I don’t suppose the old Cornish county council ever thought of obliging every resident to speak Cornish. The president, Mr Zapatero, appears to be disposed to accepting this demand, saying it won’t change a thing as it will be a duty without sanctions for non-compliance. So why have it, other than to cock a snook at Spain? Of course, Mr Z may be the only person outside Catalunia who believes this.

The book I quoted the other day finishes with the following paragraph. Reading it, I couldn’t help thinking of Spain and the semi-tribalistic attitudes which seem to underlie much of what is happening here at the moment:- Everywhere we always find the human urges to preserve at least a measure of personal autonomy, on the one hand, and to form communal relationships, on the other. It is the latter which tends to get out of hand. To form a national or other such grouping without forfeiting liberties and without generating venom against other such groupings – such is the problem before the world. To cope with it, we need careful thinking, balanced understanding and open yet unservile minds. One wonders how much of these are around in Catalunia and the Basque Country right now.

And I also thought of the UK’s Labour government plans for the replacement of counties by huge regions. Do they really understand the forces that might be unleashed? Except, of course, that envy and enmity presuppose personal loyalty to the region to which one belongs. And, in contradistinction to Spain, there would be little, if any, of this in respect of Britain’s artificial, EU-endorsed mega-regions.

I see newspapers and TV channels now offer ‘Weblogs’. In other words, professional reports dressed up as blogs. I suspect the only similarity with the real efforts of us amateurs is that you can post a comment to them. And so pretend you’re part of a major news organisation. I suppose it’s cheaper than phoning in your inane comment and waiting for someone to read out ‘Baz in Croydon thinks the world would be a better place if all blacks was white’. I wonder when Sky will get round to asking viewers to vote on whether alleged sex-offenders should be strung up without a trial. Can’t be far off.

Three cheers for the city of Leganés, the first in Spain [and Europe?] to set up ‘geriatric parks’. These are like the places with swings and things for kids but, instead, contain outdoor exercise equipment, imported from China.

Someone hit my blog last night after googling ‘Sanxenxo Pontevedra sexy nightclubs’. Good to know the quality of our tourists is rising. The endless brothel ads in the back pages of the local papers will surely be in English soon.

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